In the first six months of 2019, app marketers lost $2.3 billion in ad spend due to fraudulent activities, a study by AppsFlyer, a provider of mobile attribution, showed. Experts analyzed non-organic app installs—downloads stemming from promotional activity. The loss of money was the result of fraudulent installs, including downloads performed by bots.
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Finance apps suffered the biggest financial losses of $750 million in January-June 2019. This is due to the fact that finance apps have high cost-per-installs (CPIs). Shopping and business apps were also hit: in these verticals, fraudulent installs cost marketers $370 mln and $230 mln, respectively.
App install fraud rate in Russia was 9.4% in the second quarter that is a relatively low rate on the global scale. Fraudsters tend to target high-growth developing markets with low CPIs but large population: India (36.8% fraud rate), Nigeria (32.8%), and Brazil (26.9%).
On the whole, the global rate of app install fraud grew from 16.6% in January 2019 to 22.6% in June 2019 with a slight decline in spring. AppsFlyer explains the growth by the fact that fraudsters started adapting to protection measures quicker: now it takes them only up to three days compared to one to two months in 2018.
Fake in-app purchases surged tenfold to 2.1% of all in-app purchases in Q2 from the prior quarter. Hardcore games vertical suffered the most: here fake purchases amounted to 15.9% by the end of Q2. Finance and casino apps were also targets for fake purchases with respective rates of 7.2% and 4.4%.
Fraudulent activities vary depending on the type of OS, with fake installs being the most popular type of fraud on Android. Apple’s iOS is far less vulnerable in this respect. As for Apple devices, most fraudulent activities were connected with attribution, i.e. analysis of user actions related to an app.